Rough Cuts | ‘Strike while the iron is hot’

WE READ with great interest the report published in this paper Monday last week about a recommendation made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the establishment of five infrastructure projects that will highlight the Davao City’s history and agriculture as major contributors to the development of its tourism industry.Included in the Infrastructure Modernization for Davao City Development Plan or the so-called IM4Davao), JICA identified these infrastructure projects as the agriculture tourism circuit, Little Tokyo, Davao Pioneer Museum, Madayaw Dabaw Station, and the Kadayawan Cultural Village. The projects, according to JICA estimate, could cost the city some P1.198 billion.

The most ambitious of the five infra projects is the Little Tokyo which is estimated to cost P687 million. This same project is top in our mind insofar as priority in the implementation is concerned.

For now we have yet to read about the details of the said project and what it intends to do to make it a major tourist draw.

Our hunch however, is that the proponent would want to create a miniature Mintal of the pre-World War II era. Meaning, based on existing maps and landmarks of the township which was called during that time as the “Little Tokyo” in Davao, an area in Mintal will be developed replicating the physical and surface condition of the place during the heyday of the Japanese abaca plantation called Otha Development Corp., the main headquarter of which was in Mintal.

Perhaps it would be a project similar to the Disneyland in Hong Kong or Singapore where visitors see what they can see if they go and tour the compound of the original Disneyland in the United States. May be the difference in the case of the proposed “Little Tokyo” project in Davao City is that it would be some kind of “going back in time.”

Also, the Davao Pioneer Museum draws interest from us, and perhaps to all other Davaoenos, because by putting up this museum every resident of the city and visitors can have the opportunity of knowing the entire history of the city and not just one era. The museum will give us a glimpse of our past perhaps even before the Spanish time. And of course, we have no doubt that people will be interested in knowing what it was in Davao during the Spanish time, the American regime, and of course the era where the Japanese were virtually having the control of Davao’s economic activities, as well as slowly having their culture and social norms assimilated by the locals.

Of course who would not welcome the proposed Kadayawan Cultural Villages to be set up in Calinan, Los Amigos, and in Eden?

We are extremely elated about these projects because we had long been advocating for the dispersal of development in areas outside of the main urban center of Davao City. In fact for the nth time we have written about our unsolicited recommendation to open a second diversion highway that will traverse rural barangays.

This move, we believe, will not only address the burgeoning traffic situation of the city’s downtown but will also create new development center, new pockets for economic activities closer to where the bulk of the jobseekers are based. In the process such strategy of relocating job providing companies and similar entities will prevent agglomeration of new informal settler colonies in the already over-crowded urban center.

Yes, these five of the IM4Davao projects may not exactly be the ones we are hoping to be set up. But we are however definite that these will bring entrepreneurs to provide the needs of people visiting the completed projects. And even during its implementation stage job and micro enterprises opportunities will be open right at the project sites.

For now though, these projects are still in its blueprint stage. But considering the engagement of the JICA and the push of the local government of Davao City to get a fairly reasonable share in the country’s tourism industry boom, we cannot have even an iota of doubt as to the seriousness of the city leadership to pursue to its realization these IM4Davao infrastructure projects.

Yes, this time may be is the most appropriate to strongly pursue the IM4Davao Program. We have a Davaoeno President whose administration is bent on implementing its “Build, build, build” program and we have partners in JICA whose country is a major part in the history of the evolution of Davao City from a once sleepy community to a bustling business metropolis that it is today.

As the saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot.”

Posted in Opinion